Thanks Grace. Toronto’s collective voice must be 2 octaves higher now. Even though this is from September, its an important illustration of how political correctness trumps truth and important facts in Canada.
The Making of a War Criminal was to be one of four travelling educational exhibitions being shown in schools and on city-owned property. It features an image of Hitler saluting and a photo of Mr. Ahmadinejad with a burning devil over his shoulder.
“[Mr. Ahmadinejad’s] threat to wipe Israel off the map — if that’s not a call for genocide or another Holocaust, I don’t know what is,” said Avi Benlolo, chief executive in the Canadian branch of the Los Angeles-based human rights organization.
“We did this exhibit to press this case. It needs to be seen in public spaces,” Mr. Benlolo said.
City officials rejected the exhibit because it may “stereotype or promote views and ideas which are likely to promote discrimination, contempt or hatred for any persons,” as stated in the city’s display policy.
The city’s art and display committee reviewed the exhibit and had a “fulsome discussion,” before making its decision, city spokesman Rob Andrusevich said.
“They misunderstood this policy, and they have a little bit of fear of a backlash,” Mr. Benlolo said. “But they have to ask themselves: There’s a threat of genocide here, how do we bring attention to it?”
City councillor Mike Feldman (York Centre) agreed with the city’s decision to edit the exhibit.
“It’s the city’s responsibility to try to maintain a peace within the city,” he said yesterday. “The city is erring on the side of caution. If we display that, then what will prevent any display from anyone else?”
Further, he was concerned that the exhibit would provide a platform for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “very dangerous” ideas.
“I don’t think anyone is applauding what this madman is saying, but … I don’t know what the [display] would accomplish.”
But David Shiner, councillor for Willowdale, thinks the city should show the whole exhibit.
Mr. Shiner, who has not seen the controversial exhibit, said he understands that it includes statements Mr. Ahmadinejad made about Jewish people and a paragraph about the Holocaust denial conference he hosted in 2006.
“If [the exhibition] is based on fact, don’t we believe that people should be able to see all of the facts and the city shouldn’t be one controlling what goes out to the public?” Mr. Shiner said.
“We may be promoting discrimination and hatred by allowing the opinions of the few and those promoting the offence to go without challenge.
“Do we have a bylaw against controversy or a bylaw against discrimination?”
The remaining parts of the exhibition, made up of panels two metres tall, provide the history of the Holocaust, profile those who helped Jews escape the Nazis and feature prominent human rights advocates. They are on display at the Scarborough Civic Centre this week.
Next week, Milton District High School will display all four exhibits.
They were shown in July at the Ontario Police College; but The Making of a War Criminal was taken down after a few cadets complained.
Mr. Benlolo said the exhibit is not meant to be offensive.
“It’s meant to be shocking,” he said. “It is meant to be provocative because the situation is real and serious.”